Slow down, what’s the hurry?

Over the weekend I started watching some videos from a YouTube channel by the Fine Brothers, which has kids, teens and college students reacting to things from the past to present and elders reacting to current trends. The music and fashions of the 1980s and 1990s made me laugh, cringe, and feel older than my actual age, I was born in the late 1970s, with equal measure. The music ones in particular make me realise how fortunate I was to grow up with such diversity in what was regarded as mainstream and/or chart music compared with today. Only this week Ed Sheeran has 16 out of the top 20 singles due in part to streaming of music counting as singles, making many in the UK question what is a single and what is not. For me the issue with most modern mainstream music is it sounds like a machine made it for the most part not a human; autotune leaves songs devoid of genuine emotion compared with say Cindi Lauder on ‘Time after time‘ or Snead O’Connor”s cover of ‘Nothing compares 2u‘ to the musicality of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ or Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir‘. It all seems more painting by numbers in fifty shades of grey rather than with multicolour, which as someone with synesthesia music often does as each piece of music is visual and filled with colour.

However, it was kids reacting to technology of the past (1980s-1990s) I found most interesting of all, probably as would have been the ages of the kids to teens using them in the videos at the time they were new. In particular it was the responses from those under thirteen which interested me the most, for them the Internet to smart phones are normal ways of life, with everything being available in more or less an instant to 24/7. Most of them had zero patience to wait for things, anything more than around five seconds and they felt it was too long to wait. Things that required thinking or a series of steps were pushed aside as wanted instant results. To me some of the most important things we learn in life take time. Learning new skills from a new language to driving car cannot be learnt instantly. Or mastering musical instruments, which can be supplemented by watching videos on YouTube, but to become a proficient to professional level takes time and often daily patience. Creativity to using our imagination is another thing that an app or website cannot do for us alone, and takes time to patience to hone our skills. So in some way sold and new can come together. However, there are no shortcuts to make these our knowledge and not something we know how to find out how to do it or get something to do it for us.

Are we so used to things appearing as soon as we press a button or using an app to do it for us we no longer have the patience?  It made me think why do we need something done NOW, can we slow down for at least a minute, what is the hurry or gratification to have something instantly? Take deciding to watch a movie, in the past we would have gone somewhere like Blockbuster video stores to rent movies rather than a mouse click or tap on Netflix or Amazon Prime. I remember at least a three year wait between cinema release and being shown first on TV with renting a video would be the only option when it finally did come out to rent! ‘The return to Oz‘ for example I remember in particular it was many years after cinema release, like Disney movies that were seldom shown on TV (which was for copyright or so it was said). I still do not subscribe to either Netflix of Amazon Prime as do not feel the have the need for that kind of 24/7 entertainment in TV or movies, I prefer music or books to either and always have.

Do not get me wrong I love being able to find an old song I like and play it instantly or discover new music from artists I love to discovering new ones, rather than spend a fortune on buying vinyl, cassettes or CDs to rewinding tapes just to hear that one song I know by an artist or listen to that song buzzing in my head! I was also sad that when given a film camera one instantly wanted to take an old selfie with it and all did once the kids got the film in the camera, hurting their eyes with the flash as they did! As someone that developed her own black and white photographs in her teens and uses a DSLR I enjoy the process of taking a photograph as much as taking an image. It did make me wonder just how many images are now just files in cloud servers not physical albums, how will kids today be as embarrassed as we were when our parents dug out old photos of us to show future partners or spouses? Will technology exist to be able to retrieve photographs taken ten-twenty years before?

Significant improvements in technology over the last 20 years or so have perhaps made patience unnecessary in the modern world. Think about it, we can make credit card payments, get a taxi, talk to a friend across the world, or even check their mail – all of this online, right from home or sat on the toilet in a bar, and within the matter of seconds! We’re becoming more focused on quick fun — such as a game of Angry Birds on the iPhone — than on reading books or magazines. We also have online shops that will deliver that day, so no longer have to physically go to a shop and wait or order and again wait for it to arrive. Perhaps the signs of this instant gratification was something to come with the Harry Potter buy at midnight deals, as so many could not wait to read the latest book. With the rise in popularity of apps such as Tinder even our relationships with others have come to be instant fixes at the swipe of a finger for sex that would seem unacceptable twenty years ago as the fear surrounding HIV and AIDS to taboo of casual sex were so great. I have bought a few things on day of release or wanted the instant I saw them, the only one that comes to mind being Pink Floyd’s ‘The Division Bell‘ but that was only because it was a local holiday and passed a music shop!

This need for instant gratification is making the younger generations perpetually impatient as they are unable to grasp that waiting for something is what made us appreciate it more. Perhaps it goes hand in hand with things being so disposable now? Have something now as it won’t last another five years. I am all for living in the now but surely this is taking it a touch too far?! Do we really need these instant results and quick fixes? Can we not slow down, as we are now accelerating so fast I feel I am clinging to the edge of my seat in a car driven by a teenager that has learnt to drive only through watching YouTube videos; knowing a crash will come soon and many will be injured and/or unable to operate without the need for instant help and/or support. Maybe I am getting old and have the same fears my parents and grandparents would have had with technology I now take for granted. However, it is a good day for me when I can shut off my phone and just enjoy the world around me without being stuck behind a screen, appreciating what I have now and not what I could click or tap to have or do next next.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

Real life

As popular reality TV shows return for their autumn runs in the UK few stop to think of the contestants that in many ways are like actors in a play. Winners already decided to scripted arguments, edited video footage to manipulative judges comments, all make us invest emotionally in the contestants and vote in a certain way. Thus the contestants are presented in neat little packages, which are often far from how the truly are around friends and family.

However, it is not just confined to TV shows, for it is something nearly all of us are guilty of. Take a look at your Facebook profile, if have one, and see the image of yourselves that you promote to the outside world. We share our lives like the diary room on the show “Big Brother“, editing our photos to elicit a certain response, trying to look slimmer and younger than we are, to the portray of how life is and the person we want to be seen as by others.

Learning to be comfortable in who we are can be very difficult. Combined with the media and entertainment telling us we need to do x or y to become rich and successful or this is what true beauty looks like via a heavily edited photograph. Those that differ are seen as abnormal or freaks as their individuality is erased at a click of a mouse. Therefore, nowhere do we see examples of ordinary individuals as almost want to conform to these ideas.

Is it not time we stopped watching and listening? Gave ourselves a break for not being how the world paints what human beings are to be. Not everyone will have a partner and/or children, a fulfilling career does not mean one that brings lots of money and owning houses to cars are extras that should not be forced as must haves; what is wrong with renting a home or use public transport, owning a car may seem convenient but costs so much to run.

However, by all means continue watching television and posting to social media if you wish, but perhaps tuning out from or switching them off them now and again so can appreciate what we have without needing to share it, the little things that are special to each of us. Spending quality time with friends and family as life is precious and short, which is why the present is the only time that actually exists; based on foundations of the past and start of tomorrow.

© Fi S. J. Brown

There’s an app for that

Today if we want to learn how to do something we go to a site like YouTube to learn by video or we use an app on our phone/tablet to do it for us. More and more we let an app do something for us, rather than working out or learning how it is done, as quite often quicker and easier than spending time, or so we argue, learning how is not important. Yet our parents and grandparents would, if they were lucky, go to a library and borrow a book to learn how to do something but many more would learn from their parents or grandparents directly or indirectly.

It is as though in many ways we are now reliant on technology to think for us, not question and wonder for ourselves for there are other things we would rather do than study. Yet at the same time we complain of a boredom our ancestors would never have understood, with so much now possible we find it hard to find something to do…is that not a contradiction? Is it because we have become so reliant on machines for us, that some cannot think for themselves? It seems as though some almost need the machine or app to tell them exactly what to do, when and how!

So what can we do? As for some being without the internet and/or mobile phone is although missing something or no longer part of modern life. Those that choose not to have social media are thought of as strange, as the cynics believe they must have something to hide or even anti-social! I have considered doing this myself countless times but decided to keep for sharing creativity such as music, art, photography and writing. So much of our lives based upon the screen that conversation in person seems so strange to some, but with an alcoholic drink it’s ok!

Does technology improve our lives, is in now ruling or even ruining our lives? Stopping to think about what makes us human, all we can do with our many senses and our capacity to learn new things from scratch. Yet now it seems like we are sleepwalking backwards by relying on something else doing things for us and thinking for us so we can get on with something perceived to be more “fun”. In many respects the robots of science fiction are here but are not the humanoid droids we thought they would be. Machines taking over, is it really so far fetched?

© Fi S. J. Brown

50 Shades of grey – An opinion

All this talk of “50 Shades of grey” has got me thinking; is it glorified porn, a harmless movie with sex for women, an exploitation of women with an abusive partner, and is it worth giving it the oxygen of publicity?

In 2011 when the book was released I was still in the throws of self hate, low self esteem and the idea of a book of any sort on sex would never be one I’d buy. However, reminded it me of the Twilight saga that inspired it and Dan Brown’s work before it, that is to say despite being a poor excuse for literature, masses were lapping it up as wanting to read it for themselves, and perhaps in many ways so they were able to fit in with what people were talking about around the water coolers and offices of the world but few wanted to be like the boy in the Emperor’s new clothes and point out how bad or what the book’s greater message was.

The book’s plot filled me with shivers as someone that has been almost raped and was stalked for three months I know that it is not fun, and if he had done these things I certainly would have thought of it far from the topic of a fun movie to see with female friends or something of enjoyment. One of the things I look for in a relationship is space and freedom, I become overwhelmed by intense situations and I certainly would not want one with Christian Grey. What happens behind closed doors, even with our closest friends, we really do not know for certain how many are abused (female AND male) to how many abuse others (not just their partners). A relationship for me is a partnership that is equal, not 50:50, but 100:100, not give and take as and when another wants it.

The main theme of sex in the book and now movie hits upon something far deeper and darker. The sexualisation of society is something I have seen increase in my lifetime, and this seems to be yet another example of this. The videos from my childhood by Duran Duran or Robert Palmer pale by the ones that anyone can watch at any time via the internet, which some dismiss as “only entertainment” but actually what is entertainment really? Therefore, a book like 50 shades does not surprise me and the movie being made did not either. The scriptwriter and director are women, their gender for me is important and not, for this is a Hollywood movie so would expect it to be done by women for the outcry if been made by men would be far more from certain areas.

I read only last week that they want to have sex education for five year olds, on the pretense of understanding issues such as abuse young. As someone who found that whole thing uncomfortable as the idea of anything going in my girl parts freaked me out then and still does due to unresolved childhood issues. Who are these kids going to go to if feel they’re experiencing these things especially when it is something that is regarded as normal in their family’s social circle? We’re led to believe if follow the media that abuse stories that come out and few between. Yet those that were in children’s homes tell a far darker story, I cried my eyes out at an Irish man telling his story on a live show of what happened to him, with a politician just sat there stoney face, where was that man’s humanity and compassion? It is no wonder that people are scared to speak out and up.

So will I ever read or watch “50 shades of grey”? No way, the book would have made better toilet paper! I’m all for others reading and watching what they like, but sometimes we need to take a step back and be the like the little boy and say no I am not okay with that, which should always be enough. If you really want to see a movie with S&M go watch James Spader’s movie “Secretary”. We should not feel pressured to do or be something we are not, I know this from my own experience. So do not feel you HAVE to see or read 50 shades, having our own opinion is valuable it is important to remember it and respect another’s, even if different to our own.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Black Friday

Today has been termed “Black Friday” where retailers try to entice us to buy yet more goods we do not need; it won’t improve our lives to own something and nor will we look cool to show off what we bought on social media. At a time when many people are struggling to pay their rent, bills and food, do we really need to buy more?

Instead I would like to use it as a day we think of the darkness or black in the world. Not everyone has a place to call home, a job or people to call family. Equally, many live with physical and mental conditions or coming to terms with terminal ones. Also, many these days have a sense of “as long as I’m ok!” Where is the empathy?

As well as thinking of black in the world, let us send hope and peace with light of multicolour to brighten up the world. We need love, empathy and compassion to all living creatures of this world. Finally, let us breakdown barriers and labels we use to judge others, respecting and appreciate all.

© Fi S. J. Brown

“Look Up”

There is a viral video going round social media suggesting we “Look Up”, give up our mobile phones and computers in favour of real life contact. Where as I agree with this in principle, that is for many now their lives revolve around the internet and social media being plugged in 24/7. It is almost like an electronic umbilical cord that we feel we connected to something. Are the androids not just the phones or characters from Blade Runner but ourselves, now dreaming of electric sheep?

I saw one girl comment that Twitter and YouTube helped with her introversion, sadly I call this rubbish; we can all hide behind a keyboard and phone to pretend be something we are not. This may have helped her “speak” with people from all over the world, but for me it does not help her in the real world, which matters far more than a words from a human made device to another human made device. Call me old fashioned but I prefer a phonecall or letter from a loved one matters far more, or even a text or email to say hello.

It saddens me that we created and manufactured great things in the past, but now as great a leap of technology the internet with social media may be, are we not a standstill? What is posted is not always done with love and creativity, instead it is often done for attention. Our online presence shows an edited form of how life really is for us, for me it is like a Holywood movie – a polished, stylish, unoriginal and sometimes untruthful account of how life is really going for us.

Equally, our attention spans have decreased and people do not read properly, so a tweet or video on vine are now just the right length. I would rather be lost in a music concert of the past with musicians that felt their notes and beats or book that has not been hyped up so far by the press, that it is no in reality no better than toilet roll. Give me “Fade to Grey” not “50 shade of grey”. Things no longer last, I like things that will inspire me to create something new.

I have considered deleting my own social media many times in the last few years, having felt and seen its darker side. However, for now it is helping me give a voice, to my own thoughts and ideas, as well as to those that deserved to be heard, rather than the endless celebrities that frequent social media. One day I’ll pull the plug, but for now I’ll stay as have met some very special people because of social media, but also enjoy my mugs of tea and deep ponders away from it.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The Bumble Bee’s Tale

The humble bumble bee must rank as one of the most vilified creatures on Earth by humans. As children we are told to be careful not to be stung by one, yet they only do so because it is frightened or protecting the colony – most of us would lash out if someone tried to attack or those we love too! They then suffer the tragedy of dying for protecting those they love, because a mammal’s skin is so thick it can remove the stinger back out and it’s organs are torn out in stinging. It would be like the police shooting us for defending our homes as we attacked an intruder to our homes.

Then their role in pollinating plants is often underestimated what they bring to us. Many of us love to see flowers blooming around us and almost around in the spring air but do we ever thank the bee’s role in this sight of colourful beauty? Probably not. In the UK it has been estimated that we have lost 97% of our flower-rich grassland since the 1930s. Furthermore, bees account for 80% of all insect pollination of plants at least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of our wild plants to thrive due to pollination from them. That is like us humans taking over 80% of the world, using at least 30% of the available animals a food source and killing 90% of the wild animals as do not bring us any “benefits” (i.e. food or companionship).

You may think that last comparison is silly or crazy, but is it so far out? When we have human greed by materialistic goods increasing, a new iPhone or designer handbag having more importance than hills and rivers. We want to put a price on everything we can see or hear. In the UK alone two species have become extinct in the last 80 years and others have declined dramatically. Maybe it’s about time we thanked them for their help in giving us peas to strawberries, rather than reaching for pesticides or growing genetically modified crops so do not appeal to insects before they are no more and once we saw dancing with the spring flowers.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

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